The Ole Ball Game

Why don't on deck batters "coach the plate"?

by James T. Moran

James asked: The main goal in baseball is to touch home plate.

Yet players (generally on deck batters) don't assist a teammate that is running with his back to the ball and has know idea which or even if he should slide and in what direction.

I find it reprehensible that the on deck batter is standing a few feet away watching the runner get thrown out by sliding to the wrong side of the plate.

Coaching the plate is an art that is not used as much as it should be. On deck batters should be reminded to 'coach the plate'. We were taught in 1966 by my high school coach how to coach 1st, 3rd and home. It was practiced at least once a week.

That to me is the best and easiest way to help a teammate. After all if you don't cross the plate safely the best you can hope for is a tie.

Rick answered: James, thank you for your question.

Time spent in that circle is certainly more than waiting on your turn at bat.

The link below will take you to one such event.

You are correct, on deck hitter responsibilities seem to get little or no attention.

Letting the runner know whether to slide or stand up, as well as which direction to slide are essential.

Baseball is filled with little details that make a difference between one player and another, as well as one team or another. Attention to detail is certainly a separator.

Sounds like you had the benefit of some solid coaching when you were playing. All those little details provide players with an added level of confidence which allow them to function at a higher level.

Yours in baseball,


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Jul 09, 2015
Coaching the plate.
by: James T. Moran

The 3rd base coach can't help the baserunner once he's rounded 3rd. The runners back is to the coach, the coach can't see the direction or line of site on the ball, the 3rd base coach can't tell which side of the plate to slide toward, 3rd base coach can't get the catchers mask or bat out of the way, the on deck batter drops his bat, gets directly in line with the runners view, gets prepared to show the runner with two arms what to do. Stand up, slide right or left. The goal is to touch the plate and helping by the on deck batter is imperative. There is no other help anywhere on the field and the on deck batter is free. He is helping a player with the most important task in baseball the only goal the whole team has and that is to touch the plate and score a run.

Jun 10, 2015
"Too many chefs in the kitchen?"
by: Jim (Phoenix, AZ)

Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't that what the 1st and 3rd base coaches are for? And sometimes the batter at the plate or the leading runner who crossed home ahead of the following runner -- I've seen them turn and 'guide'/coach whomever is running from 3rd to home.
I think the on-deck batter has enough on his mind just getting ready for his turn at the plate to have the additional responsibility of coaching (again, isn't that what the Coaches are for?).
I agree that the batter and on-deck batter should have some degree of "situational awareness," but they can't do everything (and they aren't supposed to!) and that's why there are base coaches.
Some people are capable of 'extreme' multitasking, most aren't. To include this responsibility into the on-deck batter's routine would, I think, reduce his focus/concentration on his prep which could lead to a reduced performance at the plate.
In the short time I played ball (1969-1973), the various team coaches I played for made it very clear that the batter's objective and responsibility was what the coach told him it was and no more. As such, there was never even a thought about "coaching the plate" from the deck. It was made very clear that any kind of coaching was only to be done by a coach.
Were my experiences unique or extreme old school?

And then there's the runner's perspective. To reduce confusion, they're told to look at a coach for direction/signs. Now, if you include the on-deck batter, whose direction is the runner to take if the coach and on-deck are giving contradictory signs?
Once they get the sign (if it's to run), the runner usually puts his head down and focuses on running as fast as he can -- he's not looking for additional coaching or signs.

As for the base coaches, especially 3rd base, look at how far he 'roams' when a runner heads for home. I think he has a better perspective (situational awareness) for "coaching the plate" than a player limited to the on-deck area.

Also, given the time we're in --- the Era of Specialization --- I really wouldn't expect "coaching the plate" from anyone other than a coach.

Jun 10, 2015
On deck
by: Brian G

I make sure my on deck batters are catching the signs as well. If as coaches we are setting the plate for them. They should understand what the plan is. On deck is a lost art for sure.

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